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Improve your skills and your bottom line

Recent research from the Association of British Insurers reveals that employees are almost twice as likely to make financial decisions if they receive information and guidance via their employers.

If people won&#39t go to financial advisers and are not taking action themselves, the workplace is an ideal place for financial education to go to them. Financial education and financial literacy are both still too low a level among the general public. And too many people do not realise how badly they will fare in retirement. This is illustrated by a chilling comment from shadow work and pensions spokesman David Willetts who said recently that “the pensions crisis in the UK is as big a threat as terrorism or global warning”.

To find out how educational financial information and training can be delivered in the workplace in an effective educational format I spoke to Les Hanson at fe4.

“We are a registered training company delivering accredited financial courses,” he says. “We offer an opportunity for advisers to deliver financial education in the workplace using courses that provide learners with a vocationally-related qualification. By the end of 2005 we expect trainers to be earning an additional income of about £24,000. Trainers can work part-time but must be qualified financial and mortgage advisers who know their subject inside out.”

fe4 may be fine for those seeking to become part-time trainers but what is the true value of training? A survey in April this year conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development looked at the benefits of training delivered in respondents&#39 organisations (see box). Some 79% of respondents said they believe the training is of &#39great benefit&#39 to their organisation. A further 15% said it is of &#39some benefit&#39.

The conclusion is that the top-ranking benefits of training are associated with improving skills directly linked to immediate job demands. More general organisational benefits such as staff motivation, retention, heightened commitment and reduced absenteeism are more widely regarded as of &#39some benefit&#39 while the more skill-related training is viewed as of &#39great benefit&#39. This reflects the contemporary focus of training in organisations – increasingly performance-driven.

Yet despite the persuasive arguments for pushing training up on the agenda many HR managers say not enough is being offered in our workplaces and thus the potential for having motivated, skilled and high-performing workers is not being fulfilled as it should be.

Having put the importance of training into some kind of context the question is – what steps are you taking to benefit from the training programmes that are available to you and your staff?

There are hundreds of programmes on offer. Whether you want to know how to &#39close a sale and deal with objections&#39, &#39win more business by telephone&#39, &#39empower and delegate&#39, &#39manage con- flict&#39 or learn a hundred and one other skills – the facility to do so is usually there on your doorstep. Costs vary so it pays to shop around.

Marc Holland, managing director of PTP Training & Marketing, says: “We offer a range of sales and marketing training at competitive rates. We work with 20% of FTSE 100 companies and with clients in the financial services sector.”

And David Jones, national training manager at SAAB GB, adds: “The negotiating and telephone courses have been excellent. We have been booking PTP on a regular basis and will continue to do so.”

These are just two of the many companies you may wish to travel with on the train to success. Make sure you don&#39t miss it – improve your skills and your bottom line.

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